Writing about cars for a living seems like a dream job, you picture yourself in the latest super car, drifting round corners, smoking tyres and burning rubber with a closed race track all to yourself. But there is one issue with this dream image in your head, where does the writing come into it?
Many people’s image of a motoring writer/ journalist is 90% driving and 10% writing. But in fact it’s more like the other way round, 90% writing with only 10% (and that’s being generous) of your time spent behind the wheel of a car.
For those of you who do dare set foot in the world of motoring writing here are my tips, from someone who started from the bottom and is slowly making his way up in the world of automotive writing.
- Start writing
It seems like an obvious thing but to be a writer it might be a good idea to see if you actually enjoy the process of writing. Start a website or a blog and publish your work there. First of all it gets your work out there into the world (even if nobody’s reading it yet) and it builds a portfolio of work that you can show to potential employers. My very first article is still out there for the world to see (don’t look it’s not a pretty sight).
- Don’t expect it to happen quickly
You should never expect to be given a job straight away. Writing three articles does not make you a writer. You should be writing as much as possible, at the bare minimum you should be writing two to three articles every week. Employers aren’t looking to help anyone, they are not a charity. Employers are looking for people to help them. How can you help them? By being proactive, accurate and able to work to a deadline. How do you learn these skills? By being a consistent and experienced writer.
- Don’t expect everything to be gold
In the process of writing you will find yourself trying to be better and better. You’ll force yourself to be perfect and kick yourself on every mistake. Don’t! Everybody has off days whether you weren’t feeling well, your pet died, or you got the dreaded writers block. Every published writer will be able to point you to a bad article of theirs. It will often stick in their minds, reminding them of a silly mistake they made. But this is a good thing, because you can guarantee they won’t make that mistake twice.
- Drive cars
Yes the one thing you got into the job for, but don’t expect to be driving Lamborghini Huracans and Ferrari 488s on your first day out. It’s pretty much impossible to get a car from a manufacturer when you are first starting out. So how do you get the keys? Well how would anyone else? You go to your local showroom and ask for a test drive. Yes you only get a short time in the cars, but it refines your senses to be able to quantify the ride, performance, comfort and quality of a car quickly.
- Work for free
When you are first starting out it is impossible to get paid for your writing. However it is more important to get your work published than to get paid. Getting your work published gets your name out there, you develop an audience and more importantly a writing style for that audience.
- Work everywhere
To develop a diverse writing ability you have to write for different audiences, whether it be motorsports inspired race coverage, new car releases or for a car club, each audience has a different style. Writing for all these different forums helps you to realise the subtle differences between them and target your articles at exactly who you want to read them.
Develop your skills, work hard, be dedicated and learn from your mistakes then maybe you can forge a career in automotive writing.